Stereotypical Stupidity and Yu Darvish

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If teams shied away from making a posting bid on Yu Darvish because they didn’t want to spend the money on the fee and then to sign him to a contract, then okay.

If they weren’t impressed with his abilities, fine.

If they were legitimately concerned that he wouldn’t transition well, fair enough.

If they examined the past successes and failures of big name pitchers who came over from Japan—Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Irabu and even Kei Igawa—and decided the risk wasn’t worth the reward, I won’t quibble.

But if teams came up with the simplistic argument that because Darvish is coming over from Japan and the aforementioned pitchers were disappointing that he wasn’t worth a serious look, it’s a ridiculous and illogical case doomed to haunt those who, like me, believe strongly in Darvish’s potential.

Would any GM or scout in his right mind look at a pitcher from Ohio and say he wasn’t interested in him because of the failure of a pitcher from Florida if there were no similarities between them other than they were from the United States?

No. It would be seen as ludicrous and they wouldn’t be in their jobs for very long.

But that’s exactly the argument given when the Yankees–for example—are said to have been stung by Irabu and Igawa and weren’t going to go crazy for Darvish because of those pitchers.

Irabu was a pet project of George Steinbrenner who forced his way to the Yankees; he was hyped incessantly and the expectations were so stifling that no one could’ve lived up to them; Irabu had talent, but he needed to be allowed to grow accustomed to the big leagues without pressure from the media and ownership if he wasn’t spectacular immediately.

Igawa was a response by the Yankees to the Red Sox getting Matsuzaka. I’m convinced that they heard his name, maybe—maybe—looked at his stats and some tape and signed him without knowing what they were getting.

I’d hate the think the Yankees were employing talent evaluators who saw Igawa and decided to invest $46 million in him.

Yu Darvish is not Matsuzaka; he’s not Irabu; he’s not Igawa.

It’s the same thing as saying that because Francisco Cervelli and Wilson Ramos were both born in Valencia Carabobo, Venezuela that they’re the same talent and shouldn’t be viewed as anything other than that.

It’s idiotic.

Why compare Darvish to the pitchers that came over and failed? Why not compare him to Hiroki Kuroda? To Takashi Saito? To other Far Eastern players Chien-Ming Wang and Chan Ho Park? Pitchers who’ve done well?

His pitching has nothing in common with them either, but at least they were good.

Staying away from Darvish makes sense if that’s what scouts and financial freedom say is the smart thing to do, but to dismiss him because of his Japanese League pedigree is stereotypical stupidity at its lowest.

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Yu Darvish and the Yankees

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Despite refusing to show their hand in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes, the Yankees must have posted a large bid for the Japanese right-hander.

Here’s why.

They need him.

For the second straight year, Brian Cashman went to the winter meetings looking for pitching and came away empty handed. The Yankees weren’t enamored of C.J. Wilson‘s asking price; Mark Buehrle didn’t appear interested in New York; Trevor Cahill was traded to the Diamondbacks; Billy Beane is asking for a ton to acquire Gio Gonzalez; and Felix Hernandez isn’t on the market.

CC Sabathia was retained with a contract extension; they kept Freddy Garcia and are looking for takers on A.J. Burnett. The young pitchers Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos and Hector Noesi are not expected to start the season in the rotation. That leaves Sabathia, Garcia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Burnett.

It’s doubtful that Cashman is comfortable with that in the wake of the new look American League that houses the two-time defending American League champions Rangers and the rainmaking Angels. The AL East isn’t a guarantee to have the Wild Card anymore. There’s still the chance that the playoffs expand to an extra team in 2012, but that’s an unknown and the configuration of the playoff structure—a one-game playoff for the Wild Card—is not what any team with a near-$200 million payroll wants to bank on.

If the Blue Jays are—as rumored—one of the teams that put in a bid for Darvish, they’re very dangerous in the changing culture of the division. It’s not just the Red Sox and Yankees with the Rays insinuating themselves into the conversation anymore. The Blue Jays are a serious threat.

He only costs money.

The Yankees are concerned about the luxury tax; the posting bid will not count against the luxury tax. (You can read a concise synopsis of the new CBA here on MLB Trade Rumors.)

Hypothetically, say the winning bid is $50 million and the Yankees or anyone else has to come to a contract agreement with Darvish. Darvish could conceivably stay in Japan if he doesn’t like the offers he receives, but that’s unlikely. If a team wins the bid, they’ll have to sign him and he wants to pitch in the majors. They’ll hammer something out.

Judging by prior posting bid contracts, the contract itself won’t be a huge outlay. The Red Sox got Daisuke Matsuzaka for 6-years and $52 million. If the Yankees can get Darvish for somewhere around $60 million for 5-years, that’s far lower than what they would have had to pay Wilson; cheaper in personnel than what they’d have to surrender in a trade for Gonzalez, Hernandez or any other young arm they might pursue; it won’t count against the luxury tax and there are no compensatory draft picks.

Money is something the Yankees have and it’s a one-cost purchase without any kickers to affect the rest of their payroll.

Darvish is really, really good.

This is a superstar talent in personality and performance. Those who are preaching caution are using the fractured logic that because Matsuzaka, Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu didn’t work out, Darvish will be the latest in massively hyped, overpriced pitchers from Japan to come to North America and be a bust.

I was ready to make the same argument before looking at Darvish.

Pigeonholing a player based on where he’s coming from is the wrong way to pursue talent.

That stereotype could be applied to anything.

Why sign any free agents if they might become Carl Pavano?

Why draft any immense talent if they might become Brien Taylor?

Why develop pitchers if they might washout in New York like Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy?

Players have to be judged on who they are with a consideration to the history of other pitchers who tried to make the transfer. I tore down Darvish’s mechanics with video and comparisons in this piece; he’s the real deal.

I said at the time that teams with the means have to go after him because he’s going to be that good.

The Yankees are one of those teams and considering the above factors it’s a pretty fair assumption that they put in a bid for Darvish.

A big one.

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